For some time insurance companies and, indeed, the Courts have been concerned with the number of fraudulent or exaggerated claims for compensation for personal injuries and it is not generally well known that this was tackled by the legislature in The Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 (the 2004 Act) certain provisions of which deal specifically with such claims.
Claims to be verified on Oath
A person claiming compensation for personal injuries in the Courts must swear an Affidavit verifying all injuries and losses claimed in the proceedings. Under the 2004 Act it is an offence for a claimant to knowingly swear an Affidavit which is false or misleading.
Court can Dismiss Claim
Under Section 26 of the Act a Court is empowered to dismiss a claim outright in circumstances where the claimant has been found to have given false, misleading or exaggerated evidence, even where liability has been accepted by the insurance company involved.
Previous Claims not Disclosed
The insurance company’s representatives can make an application under Section 26 of the Act to dismiss the claimant’s claim if, for instance, the claimant has exaggerated his injuries to an extent not supported by medical evidence or if he has failed to disclose injuries sustained in a previous accident – whether he brought a claim for that accident or not or whether he was compensated for that accident or not.
If a claimant exaggerates a claim such as loss of earnings by claiming that he will be unable to work in the future and this is clearly shown by the insurance company, through surveillance evidence of the claimant or otherwise, to be false, and to be without foundation then the Court has power to dismiss the claim outright.
In such situation the Court must decide, on the balance of probabilities, whether the evidence of the claimant was materially false or misleading and that he knew it to be so. The Court must dismiss such claim except where the Court holds that the dismissal of the case would lead to an injustice.
It is essential that any person bringing a personal injury claim must be careful not to exaggerate the effect of the injuries or the amount of loss sustained in an accident and must be open and candid about any previous accidents, injuries or medical conditions which may have an impact on the injuries in respect of which he is now claiming compensation.